In our increasingly mobile society, it is a sad reality that at some point in a coparenting relationship, one parent may decide to relocate to another state and take the child. There are a myriad of legitimate reasons for a move. Perhaps, new job opportunities await. The other parent may have additional family available to help them. The person may simply want a new start (maybe in a warmer climate). Many people want to know if there is anything they can do to prevent the possibility of such a move.
KENTUCKY RELOCATION RULES
Kentucky has implemented the Family Court Rules of Practice and Procedure. Those rules specify that "[b]efore a joint custodian seeks to relocate, written notice shall be filed with the court and notice shall be served on the non-relocating joint custodian." Once that notice is filed, the other party can file a motion to modify custody or timesharing within twenty (20) days unless the parties agree. Whether the court allows the relocation will be very fact dependent, but if a parent is seeking to relocate solely to frustrate the other parent's time or relationship with the child, the court will likely not allow the child to move in a joint custody situation. If, however, the relocating parent is a sole custodian, the chances of the court approving the relocation are greatly increased and the rules less stringent.
Another option to plan for a possible relocation is to have a backup plan; a "Plan B" timesharing schedule if you will. In this situation if you know there is a chance that one parent may relocate in the near future, you can build that eventuality into the parenting plan. In that way, if there is a relocation, no additional litigation expenses are incurred, the parties would simply begin following the "Plan B" schedule. While it may not be a particularly pleasant thought to contemplate, it is better to address the possibility now rather than having to relitigate the case.
NO RELOCATION CLAUSE
A final option is to include a firm "no relocation" clause in a final parenting agreement. You may or may not be successful in negotiating such a provision and it will probably depend heavily on the parties involved. Keep in mind it is unlikely that a court would ever order such a provision in a final judgment so this could only be included in a negotiated settlement. If you include a "no relocation" clause, it will need to be very narrowly crafted. courts are very hesitant to enforce these clauses for fear of violating a person's right to relocate for legitimate, good faith reasons. The courts are at all times primarily concerned with the best interests of the children and could very well override the "no relocation" clause.
If relocation is a possibility in your case, discuss the issue with your divorce/custody attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are properly addressed.
Photo courtesy of Karen Apricot
Labels: child custody, custody, joint custody, relocate, relocation, sole custody